Wrestler Akuffo strikes gold and looks forward to worlds

Ohenewa AkuffoYork student Ohenewa Akuffo is counting the days to her next overseas trip: a journey to Moscow, Sept. 6 to 12, for the Senior World Championships in freestyle female wrestling where she hopes to repeat her gold medal performance in July’s Great Britain Cup.

Right: Ohenewa Akuffo

It will be another long trip after she just returned from Sheffield, England, a few weeks ago. Then there are the Commonwealth Games in October in New Delhi, India – the first time for female wrestling as an event at the competition. “If you don’t like travelling, you’ll really hate wrestling on an international level,” says the 31-year-old marketing student in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who also spent 24 hours travelling to Nanjing City in China for the 2010 World Cup. “I regard all the travel as a privilege. I make it enjoyable,” says Akuffo, who is also a motivational speaker.

Competing in the 72-kilogram class for female freestyle wrestlers, the 16-year veteran helped Canada to a win in the team competition in a tournament that saw her starting against Olympic bronze medallist Agnieszka Wieszczek of Poland. “Everyone is number one in their country. When I arrived and found out I was facing an Olympic medallist in my first match, I said, ‘OK…you still have to finish every match and you have to be able to beat everybody,’” says Akuffo.

Akuffo lost the first round of the match but took the second and third round to advance. She then defeated Vasilisa Marzaliuk from Belarus in two rounds and finished off her tournament by topping Sarah Jones of Great Britain.

For the month of August, Akuffo will be at her home in Brampton and training with her coach of 13 years, Dave Mair. She also plans to visit York Student Services to speak with her adviser and work out a course schedule that will allow her to complete her degree, which now also includes a certificate in sports administration. “It’s like rocket science to arrange my schedule,” says Akuffo, who is hoping to graduate before the 2012 Olympics in London, England. “My academics mean a lot to me. It’s important to have balance as an individual and always finish what you start.”

For more on Akuffo and her career, see the October 2006 issue of YorkU magazine and the AthletesCAN Web site.